Bulletin: August 26, 2018
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
The poor often believe in God with more sincerity than those who possess much more in the way of material goods. Worrying about what you will eat each day and how you will pay the heating bill or the rent is a great hardship.
Yet in the Psalm we are assured, “When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”
In these times, we can be disheartened when we see those among the rich and powerful who constantly try to get richer while cynically depriving the poor of the very necessities of life. But “the Lord confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.”
This refers to those who, as in our own time, walk away from Jesus in disbelief because they can’t understand what is of the Spirit and not of the flesh. They can only understand the things of the flesh; they care only for their own flesh and not that of those whom they should love and care for as part of the Body of Christ. We, too, need to take care lest we fall into the same trap.
SPIRIT AND LIFE
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Those who had been following Jesus found the teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, words that we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, puzzling and unbelievable. There are Catholics who innocently believe that our Eucharist is only symbolic of the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet Jesus did not command us to eat this symbol of his body and blood. He said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”
“Does this shock you?” In fact, it did seem to shock many of his followers, the disciples no less than anyone else. Referring to another future action which would be hard to believe, Jesus says, “What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” Nothing more is said about the Ascension at this time, but he is teaching them gradually how to accept something that seems unbelievable.
DO NOT LEAVE
Jesus teaches that “no one can come to me unless it is granted [them] by my Father.” Jesus explains these difficult beliefs by telling them that “the spirit . . . gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.” It is in the Spirit that we truly live, and if we believe only in the flesh, we will never understand or be able to believe what seems impossible. That takes faith, and faith is a gift from God.
Because they cannot grasp this, many leave him, and so Jesus asks the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” But the faith of the closest followers is strong enough to hold on to what is impossible to understand literally. Peter answers for the Twelve, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The Apostles have come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, “the Holy One of God.” Can we accept the gift of faith enough to believe?
Today’s Readings: Jos: 24:1–2a, 15–17, 18b; Ps 34:2–3, 16–17, 18–19, 20–21; Eph 5:21–32 [2a, 25–32]; Jn 6:60–69